eBay Flipping Challenge: Starting a Business with $0

Our first baby is on the way and I’ve been thinking about things we could do financially to get it started on the right path as soon as possible.

A few weeks ago, I combined planning for the baby with something I’ve been wanting to start for probably a year now. An eBay flipping challenge! 

Some people open a savings account for their kids when they’re born, and I thought it would be cool to take that one step further and open an eBay account to feed the bank over time.

It’s always been fascinating to me how easy it is to go out and find something for cheap or free and turn it into cash that you can use to build an eBay business with. As long as you have the time to put in the work, there is a lot of potential when it comes to selling on eBay

So, I thought it would be a fun project to document how much I can put away for our kid’s future by starting with something I get for free.

I’m really excited to start this challenge because I get to do something to benefit our kid and show you a real case study of how simple and cheap it is to build a successful eBay business from scratch.

eBay Flipping Challenge: Can I Turn Trash Into Cash?

The rules of the challenge are pretty simple if you want to do it yourself. Go out into this country filled with abundance, find something for free that still has value and sell it. Then take the cash you make and use it to buy more things to sell. Keep doing this and see how much it snowballs into.

I’m going to be documenting this series on Youtube as well, so here’s the first video:

To get the challenge kicked off, I dug an oven out of a dumpster and scrapped it. My next-door neighbors sold their house and whoever bought it decided to just throw away the oven so I asked if I could scrap it.

On the way to the scrapyard, I saw a grill on the side of the road so I threw it in the back of my truck as well. I ended up getting $8.80 at the scrapyard and that’s all I needed to get my eBay business going. 

As soon as I left the scrapyard, I headed to the thrift store to buy things to list on eBay. I ended up getting a pair of Converse sneakers and a TI-83 Calculator for a total of $6.12. 

Once I got home, I created the eBay account and listed the 2 items. Both of them sold within 24 hours for over triple what I paid! The shoes sold for $15 + shipping and the calculator sold for $9.99 with free shipping. The calculator was broken so that’s why I didn’t get much for it, but I only gave 50 cents.

ebay flipping challenge

After fees and shipping, I am now left with $22.18 in the baby’s new bank account.

ebay flipping challenge

Now it’s time to go find more stuff to sell! See how easy it was to turn a broken oven into $22.18?

Can you really start an eBay business with no money?

The answer is, it really depends. If you get lucky and find something worth $50-$100 for free, you probably can get everything you need to start your eBay business.

I’m not starting this challenge 100% from scratch because I already had these things to start with:

  • Smartphone
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • Boxes/packing material (I get boxes for free at grocery stores)
  • Scale (A kitchen scale might work if you have one to start with)
  • Vehicle
  • Bank and Paypal accounts

So it does take a few items to get started with and if I didn’t have my truck I wouldn’t have been able to haul the oven. With that being said, most Americans probably already own all the tools needed to get an eBay business started and you don’t have to scrap appliances as your free item to make money with.

It’s probably even easier to find free items on the street in a busy city where you might not even own a car. If you look hard enough, I can pretty much guarantee that you'll be able to get something for free that has some value to it.

I’m also not starting this challenge as a completely new seller. I’ve been selling seriously for almost 2 years now and have learned a lot about what to buy to make money on. Even if you’re just starting out though, there are communities you can join and ask questions to help get you started. 

To be Continued…

I haven’t bought any more items to sell yet, so my eBay account is currently empty and I’ve got $22.18 to use for new inventory. It will be fun to see what I can get with the cash! 

I’m going to be updating this post as I go and uploading new videos as well. So stay tuned for my next update and let me know if you’re going to do the eBay flipping challenge with me by dropping a comment! 

If you’d like to keep track of the challenge, you can sign up for my newsletter and get challenge updates in your email (you’ll be added to my regular newsletter as well). You can also subscribe to my Youtube Channel for the video updates, or join the Facebook group and I’ll post the challenge updates there. Or if you just want to bookmark this page and check back every now and then that’s fine too!

I’m not going to restrict this challenge to a timeline because I plan to turn the baby’s eBay store into a multi-year project and see how much money we can put into the bank account 🙂 

It will be fun to see how much money is in the account by the end of the year though! I’m thinking it will easily be more than $1,000. 

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Nathan has been a personal finance writer since early 2018. He and his wife reached a net worth of one hundred thousand at the age of 25 and are on their way to financial independence. His favorite way to make money is selling things on eBay and has grown his eBay business to earn five figures selling part-time. He loves sharing what he learns about finance and any eBay tips he comes across. If you’re interested in becoming an eBay seller, check out his reseller Facebook group.